Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday suitable post

 Those of you who know me IRL know that I don't do religion in any shape or form but I do 'do' churches. I love the windows, the architecture, the history and find their communities - past and present - interesting.

Bath Abbey is wonderful and well worth a visit. The windows are beautiful and the height of the ceilings is awe inspiring.
 It makes you wonder about the people that created such a ceiling - even more so after reading and watching The Pillars of the Earth.

It was very busy when we visited and although M would have loved to have taken a tower tour I did my patented chicken dance, so we gave it a miss.

The carvings, sculpture and memorials were more than enough to interest me.
Detail of the big main door - what a skillful piece of carving.

The entry to the Abbey was a suggested £2.50 per person - though we were informed what ever we could afford would be acceptable. I think the Tower Tour was £5.00 per person.

Well worth the pennies - it is beautifully kept and the volunteers are unobtrusive and knowledgeable.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Bath-time story - The lock of doom.

 This first picture shows the 1st lock in a flight that goes from the river Avon up onto the Kennet Avon Canal proper. The gates you can see are fairly average and lead onto a winding hole next to that beautiful Weeping Willow.
This is the winding hole and that glass front is the bar/eating area of the Travelodge we stayed in. Now for the story......a long time ago (J was just coming up for 3) we had a canal boat holiday on the Kennet Avon. It was a total nightmare - the boat was on its last legs (and it wasn't cheap!) and everything that could go wrong did.
I remember seeing this Willow and the hotel and envying those sensible people who had avoided boats - it seemed like an oasis of calm after a day and a bit and two nights actually on the River Avon (which going from Bristol to Bath isn't very nice).

 This is the 2nd lock in the flight. It is one of the deepest locks in England. Those gates at the end are massive. When we went up this flight, J and I stayed on the boat whilst M worked the lock. It was terrifying, I kept it under control as I didn't want to spook J but I was bricking it. The lock ends are massive solid blocks and the boat was hard to keep still, being the only boat in the lock, and I had read about boat ends getting caught on the blocks and getting capsized. Our little barge bucked about - and the rope round the white poles (you can see them set in the side of the lock) was woefully inadequate. But we made it through.
Due to other stuff we cut our holiday short by one day and decided to flee back to dry land. We stayed over night in Bath and planned to get up very early, do the flight and get back to Bristol and head for home - what had taken us almost two days - done in one. M and I swapped roles. He stayed with boat, I worked the locks. Including what I now call 'the lock of doom'. All the others where fine, it was pissing with rain, I was drenched to the skin, but I did all the locks and then we reached this one. We had to drain it to go down a level, then open these huge gates. To this day I do not know how I opened these gates on my own. They would not budge. I put my whole bulk against them and kind of bounced and sent a plea to the universe and slowly they started to move. Momentum did the rest. I pulled virtually every muscle in my upper torso and was on painkillers for weeks. We, with a few more adventures and mishaps, got to Bristol by 4.00pm, it was still raining and we drove in a storm straight back to Brighton. I was never so happy to see the hills of home!

We went, for the first time since then, and had a proper look at this lock, it still 10+ years on, gives me the heebie-jeebies. I don't like it at all. But I felt that I needed to go and see and lay this demon to rest and I think I did.

On a positive note - I did enjoy our time in Bath and Bathampton on that canal holiday and have since been back quite a few times. I did enjoy this time being the sensible person in the hotel looking out at the locks - shame we saw no boats using them. The canal water levels seem really high and the locks are undergoing repairs. I still like walking along the towpaths - but this time with a sense of relief that I am headed back to a proper bed, toilet and shower that do not move and cannot (in all probability) take on water and start to sink!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The yarny bit of Bath

 I like to visit the shop at Get Knitted (link in previous post) whenever I get the chance. It is a lovely yarn shop and fairly large. However, this time, for the first time, I was a little disappointed in their selection it isn't as varied as it used to be, they have a lot more generic stuff like Rowan etc. The Lorna's Laces selection was very small but I did snaffle up this little beauty. It's one of the new 100g skeins in the colourway Valentine.
 I was mainly looking for lace yarn and again the selection was OK not earth shattering but OK. I got two skeins of Manos laceweight in a natural cream - about 800m in total.
 They had a large selection of their in-house dyers yarn - Jillybean - Knot Another Granny Yarn! 'Granny's Gracious Me Wot Lace' - colourway Arden Forest. It's 70% JW Merino, 20% silk and 10% Cashmere and you get 1200m in a skein for just under £20. I looked at the all the colours available in the lace and sock yarn and have to say that this was the only colour I liked. It all comes down to personal taste and some of her colour choices jar me too much.

The next day however, I stumbled upon a gorgeous little gem of a shop in Bath itself called 'Wool'. It's a small place again with a lot of generic yarn but it has a few little gems, a good choice of needles, books and bits and bobs. The owner is welcoming and friendly, there is a comfy sofa and it really feels like a wool shop.
Although I had spent my budget I saw they had the Fyberspates Scrumptious lace weight yarn in a wide array of colours and I couldn' t resist the charcoal grey or the deep red. The skeins are about 1000m and cost between £14 to £15  - good value.

The only other yarn purchase were for Mum - she had picked out some yarn online at GK to make a 'Travelling Women' shawl for herself and M bought himself some sock yarn too but I'll let him post that.

Bathy time fun - part one.

 Easy journey, if a little wet. No traffic fuff-ups. The rain has eased by the time we arrived (after a detour to Get Knitted - yarn post will follow soon). We dumped our stuff enjoyed the view from our room (picture above) had a coffee and decided to head out and stretch our legs.
 We just had an hour or so wander about the centre of Bath, via the tow path. It bought back some memories of previous trips. I think the last time we walked that route J was in a push chair and I remember buying him an ice cream and him taking so long to eat it - he was wearing most of it by the time he'd finished.

M took the above shot of Bath Abbey from the tow path. He also took the following one of Pulteney Bridge and the weir.
We were amazed how many tourists were about at this time of year and even though it was late afternoon and really grey, it was very busy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back home from Bath.

But am too tired to blog much. Have an arty pig to tide you over.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In thru the birthday and out the other side.

Had a fab, really really fab birthday.

The yarn above is a gift from the talented Emma - it has a wonderful flow of colours through the red/pink spectrum. It was dyed in jar using food dyes. It is knitting up beautifully.

What else? Well goodies galore - cd's, books, dvds, smellies, yarn and best of all......a Kindle. I sat protesting at knitting Wednesday night that I didn't want/need one, not knowing M had bought me one and a lovely case for it too. Now I own one, I am a  complete convert. I love it. Have spent a lot of time the last few days browsing and downloading!

Had a brilliant manicure and pedicure from Kerry at B Beautiful (facebook link) she has a lovely warm and relaxing treatment room in Eastbourne which is well worth a visit. She is friendly with a nice relaxed manner perfect for a little pampering. My nails look fab too!

M made me a lovely meal at home (the most wonderful salad in the world ever!) and Friday we went to a concert. It was lovely.

I have been thoroughly spoilt.

Have knitting/books to post about but it will have to wait. Need to pack M and my case as we are off, just the two of us for a couple of days, Grandma is being left in charge....poor Grandma. Will blog when I get back.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Wednesday Madhouse - Family recipes.

I know a day early but I am busy tomorrow.

This one is tricky. There aren't really any family recipes that I use - especially as M does most of the cooking. The closest I have to it is a family owned cook book that is my bible. It is circa the 70's and is called 'The Dairy Book of Home Cooking'. It is about A5 size and it is my first port of call when I need to refresh my memory of how to cook something or to tackle something I have never cooked before. My scone, cake, crumble, rice pudding, biscuit, pastry and basic stew recipes have all come from there. I am, however, more of instinctive cook than a recipe follower, once I have the gist of how to make something then I tend to make it up as I go along, adding a pinch of this or a dollop of that.

I also have two 80's versions of this book but they are nowhere near as good.

The other thing that makes this tricky is that what we eat now as a family (M, J and I) is very different (most of the time) from what we ate growing up and also how it is prepared and what ingredients are used. Both M and I are from scratch cookers, neither of us like to use packets or prepared stuff. We also both like quite a lot of veggie food and these days 99.9% we eat and cook low fat.

So here is my take on a fav recipe (the original comes from a Sue Kreitzman low fat cook book);

2 or 3 crispy eating apples (washed)
8 floz orange juice
5 tablespoons of soft brown sugar
10 tablespoons of self raising flour
2 lightly beaten egg whites
A goodly sprinkle of allspice and cinnamon

Core apples, chop roughly (leave the skins on). Put apples into orange juice and leave to soak for at least an hour. Line a fairly deep cake tin with baking parchment and preheat oven to about 170c.
Mix all the dry ingredients, sifting the flour and sugar.
Add apples, orange juice and egg whites.
Mix together - it becomes gloopy batter like and sticky.
Splodge into the cake tin and bake for two hours.
Last 30 mins or so - cover top with foil so it doesn't over brown.

Yummy and very, very low fat. It goes well with custard for a pudding too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Past the finishing post...but at the back of the field.

 In October I thought to myself...."I know, I'll knit Mum a shawl for Christmas'. She had mentioned seeing some Rowan KSH in a green (Jelly is the name of the colourway) that exactly matched her favourite, swirly, summer linen skirt. "Aha" thought I knowing I had recently purchased 3 skeins with a mind to knit the Melon Stitch Scarf or Shawl from 'Victorian Lace Today' by Jane Sowerby.
 I casually wafted the pattern around near her, she said "That is pretty!" "Bingo!" thought I and happily cast on.
Well I had read on line that the centre panel was challenging due to the boredom factor but oh boy I didn't realise it was that boring. End of November and I knew it wouldn't be done - I got distracted by other projects, so I fessed up and offered it as a Xmas/birthday gift which was acceptable ( I did knit mittens for her for the day and socks for her birthday) so she wasn't totally giftless.
The shawl was finished and blocked yesterday -phew. I was 1 day late for her birthday. I knit on this monogamously for 14 days prior to her birthday to try and get it done - I don't think one day late was too bad? And she does like it - result.

So how many projects on my needles now?
Two. Until later today. The gnome mitts which I've a got a little bored with and need to finish and a long term lace stole project for me.....NO socks.......yet.
I did have a lovely pair of socks (the breaking hearts by Cristi of Turtlegirl fame) but I really chose the wrong yarn and had to frog them - am waiting for the right yarn to find me so I can try again. I have a pair lined up and another lace project I want to try.....busy needles await me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

52 Books - book 8

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

I am not listing these books in the order I am reading them, I have a list of what I've read/listened to so far, which I peruse and then write about the one that I feel like.

This week it's another audio book. I use audio books a lot because I get to know some great books but can knit at the same time - win/win.

I am sure that I read Kim as a teen, I know I saw the film, but I am sure I read it but maybe I never finished it, because I was very dissatisfied with how it ends. It's a kind of nothing end - it builds up the spying nature of Kim's life and then fizzles out like a damp squib.The reading by Adrian Praetzellis was excellent, great characterisation again and there were portions of the book that I loved and was totally enthralled by. There were characters that I really enjoyed too - but the Llama drove me demented and IMHO way too much of the story was taken up with his speech and religious ideals. I understand it emphasised the whole 'enlightment' theme but there was just too much. You do get a great sense of time and place from the story telling and it has a wonderful alien feel to it but I just felt the story of Kim needed more depth and the whole book needed more Mahbub Ali and Lurgan Sahib.

Considering that Kipling spent time just down the road in Rottingdean and his name appears on quite a few local roads and the school just round the corner I haven't read that much of his. A few poems and The Just So Stories, which I loved from childhood to re-reading them more than once to J, I don't know if Kim is a good example of his longer works but it hasn't inspired to read more of his catalogue. Is that sacrilege?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wednesday Madhouse - Sorry.

Sorry is such an over used word these days it no longer has much significance. People say "Sorry" instead of "Excuse me" or "Pardon". People say sorry for the slightest thing I am one of the worst offenders!

I seem to spend more than half my life apologising or I should say I did. Some good friend pointed it out to me (thank you Caroline) that I am always apologising for myself, my mistakes or existing - well she wasn't that harsh, it isn't in her nature, but if she had, she would have been right. Even M says "Stop saying sorry for everything" - the dogs play him up on a walk....I apologise, he can't find something ....I say I'm sorry I don't where it is....I could go on for ever with examples for my need to apologise to everyone about everything all the time.

I have decided that it must stop. Sorry and the ability to be able to use/say that word should only be kept for when it is really necessary and needed. I can no longer de-value the importance of the word by constant over use.

So I won't apologise for this being short. I won't apologise for needless things and I won't apologise if I don't post for a few days after this.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

This weeks knitting.

Firstly the plain ole vanilla socks are all done (they were actually finished the end of last week).

I needed a quick off the needles jobby this week. So, may I present the 'Star Crossed Slouchy Beret' . The pattern is by Natalie Larson and is a free one on Ravelry. The yarn is Fyberspates Scrumptious DK - lovely to look at but a little splitty to knit. The needles were 6mm and 6.5mm and it took an afternoon. It has blocked beautifully and  at the moment is my favourite slouch hat to date.

I shall wear it today.

Friday, February 04, 2011

52 Books - number 7

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

Just an audio book this week. I have memories of my older sister reading this to me when I was little and  I also remember reading this to myself as an older child, in fact I still have my copy, very battered, from childhood and that's the one I read to J.

I decided to try this as an audio book when I saw it listed on Librivox website here. I hadn't heard the narrator listed before but decided to jump in anyway. I am so glad I did!

The narrator is Adrian Praetzellis his homepage and he was a revelation. He read well, nice even pace and tone of voice, good rise and fall to the tone and.....a big AND he characterises Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger beautifully.

I fell in love with the story all over again. It was like a warm blanket and a nice cuppa on a wet and miserable day. The lyrical countryside descriptions, the wonderful characters all complimenting each other and of course the irrepressible Mr Toad. I so enjoyed having the story told to me that I have saved it on to my iPod because I know I will want to listen to it again.

This book well deserves revisiting and lost none of charm to me at all.

Mr Praetzellis is now reading Kipling's Kim to me (review to follow) I think I will listen to all the books he has narrated.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Wednesday Madhouse - Keeping Secrets.

I think everyone has secrets, not other peoples secrets, but secrets that you personally own. I know I have and lots of them are from my childhood and lots of them are things I am none too proud of. It's amazing how they stay with you. It must mean that in one way or another they either haunted you or changed you. I can't remember what I had for dinner on my 12th birthday but I can remember things I've kept secret from that year.

There is only one other person who knows almost all of my secrets and the ones they don't know are the ones temporarily misfiled or forgotten until something unearths them, and that is M. Over the 28 years we've been together we have talked about everything and secrets on both sides have gradually all been uncovered. I think that is a healthy thing when the person you love best (not counting kidlets here) knows every facet of who are now and what made you that way. There is something so reassuring to be know you're accepted warts and all and there is something so comforting when having one of these discussions your other half says something like "Well if you think that's bad ....then listen to what I did."

I can recall quite often saying during one of our deep and meaningfuls "I've never told anyone this but..." and he has never judged or recoiled from me. It makes you realise that maybe the stuff you have in your past isn't quite as bad as you thought, and that, if you have learned from it, then it had a purpose and that by owning up to it to someone else you can move past it and bin it.

It always helps me to rationalise that the stuff that was bad at 12 or 13 is pretty small potatoes now and that holding stuff inside isn't always the best way, plus some of them seem so funny and bizarre when you finally say them out loud, that not speaking of them has internally demonized them beyond measure, letting them out is letting go.

Not all my secrets are trivial though and some of them belong to others and their behaviour around me or towards me. Some have maimed me internally and some I will have to carry forever as they shaped me. I realised that when I came to accept that I am agoraphobic and that that stems from some of my secrets. However, the realisation of this is also part of the treatment and maybe one day the cure. Those who have added to this burden, may gave burdened me, but I'll be damned if I'll ever let them beat me.

N.B. I picked 12 as just a random age - it was no worse or better than any other age for secrets but for one reason or another it is a year I remember clearly.

3 Years ago today....

ab3 009
Originally uploaded by loobles2002

Lottie moved in with us. We've not known a lot of peace since then but we love her to bits and wouldn't be without her.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Just love this

Amazing site, amazing images aerial pictures.

I nabbed this from another blog - which is also worth a look Walk slowly,Live Wildly